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Make Straight Wood Cuts with a Miter Box 

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Make Straight Wood Cuts with a 

Miter Box 

Written By: Mark Frauenfelder 


Miter box (1) 

/ have a Stanley 20- 1 12 Clamping Mitre Box and a X-Acto 1371552 Mitre Box Set 


It's possible to draw a fairly straight line with a pencil, but if you want to be accurate, you 
must use a ruler or straightedge to guide the pencil as you draw. Similarly, if you want to 
saw a piece of wood (or plastic, or PVC pipe) so that the cut is as straight as possible, you 
need a tool to help you guide the saw. A ruler won't help (don't try, you'll just ruin the ruler). 
Instead, an inexpensive tool called a miter box (sometimes spelled mitre) will do the trick. In 
this article, I'll explain what a miter box is, and how to use it. 

Technique originally posted on CRAFT . 

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Make Straight Wood Cuts with a Miter Box 

Step 1 — Make Straight Wood Cuts with a Miter Box 

• Shown here is a Stanley 20-1 12 Clamping Mitre Box. They cost about $15, including the 
saw. I usually replace mine once a year or so, because the saw's teeth get dull and the 
guide slots get chewed up over time. 

• You can see the lip on the bottom of one side of the miter box. The lip is meant to hang 
over the edge of the table so the box doesn't slip when you are sawing. If you are serious 
about not wanting the box to slip, you can anchor it to the workbench by inserting screws 
into the two holes on either side of the box. 

• The two black plastic cam pins make it easy to secure the wood in the box. Just pick 
holes that are close to the wood, insert the pins, and twist until they are tight. 

• Notice that the slots in the miter box are set at 45-degree, 90-degree and 22 1/2-degree 
angles. You can buy more expensive miter boxes that let you set any angle you want, but 
I've never made any cuts that weren't 45- or 90-degree angles. 

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Make Straight Wood Cuts with a Miter Box 

Step 2 

• Here, I'm cutting a 1"x2" piece of lumber at a 45-degree angle. I'm holding the box with my 
left hand, and cutting with my right. When making a 45-degree cut, it's easy for the saw to 
fall out of the slot, so use short strokes and take your time. 

• If you put two cut pieces together to form a right-angle, you can easily make a picture 
frame. If you try making these cuts without a miter box, you will end up wasting wood as 
well as teaching new curse words to any kids within earshot. 

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Make Straight Wood Cuts with a Miter Box 

Step 3 

• For smaller pieces of wood, you can use a hobbyist's miter box, like the one shown here. 
This is what I use to cut fret slots in the necks of my cigar box guitars. The one shown 
here is the X-Acto 1371552 Mitre Box Set. It comes with a razor saw, but I lost mine and 
am using a small hacksaw as a replacement. 

• Now that you know how to make straight cuts in wood, you probably know more about 
woodworking than 75% of the people in the country. Hold your head high (but keep your 
eyes on the blade). 

This document was last generated on 201 2-1 1 -03 02:54:46 AM. 

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